BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The World’s End is a movie about drinking, that uses that plot point to drive forward a pensive look on growing old and growing up as opposed to glamorizing the debauchery. In other words, it’s not The Hangover. Comedy, or at least good comedy, is marked by the ability to make you laugh, but also to make you think. And that’s exactly what this unofficial end to the unofficial Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy does.
The previous two films in this pseudo-trilogy (Disclaimer: It’s not a trilogy because there is really nothing besides the same creators and a nod to the Cornetto ice cream snack in each that links the three movies together), Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have become cult hits in their own right and jumpstarted the careers of director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Those two films brought a dose of British humor with slick visual style and fantastic character arcs for people who you grow to genuinely care about. So naturally, The World’s End would deliver much of the same that fans of the creators have grown to love.
The World’s End focuses on Gary King (Simon Pegg) and his four best friends from his youth recreating a twelve pub crawl in their hometown, twenty some years later. When it becomes clear that everyone but Gary has grown up and moved on, Gary’s determination to make this work only intensifies. Dogged by incidents from the past, old flames, and oh yeah, a town made entirely of robots that spit blue ink and continue fighting despite loss of heads and/or limbs, the five friends must make it to the World’s End, the final pub, because their world depends on it.
Yes, it’s silly, but it’s also symbolic. The first two pubs of their crawl look identical from the inside, and one of the characters refers to this as “Starbucking.” Corporate franchises are taking over the homegrown small business at an alarming rate, making everything so routine, so similar. The character of these pubs from their youth have been turned into yet another cookie cutter establishment. And the same thing goes for the people, the robots, as they hate to be called, are all just puppets with no real personality. It’s a striking metaphor that almost seems more powerful through the humorous way in which it’s portrayed.
As I mentioned before, this movie doesn’t glamorize getting drunk, rather it only shows to highlight the desperation that Gary has sunk into because he can’t relive his glory years and he’s never grown out of them mentally. His best friend Andy (Nick Frost), starts off the night refusing to drink due to a horrific accident in the past between the two of them that comes to light harshly near the climax of the film. His other friends (Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman), all living with regrets, despite their attempt to appear as if they are truly happy.
Growing old isn’t easy, and it’s difficult not to get caught up in living in the past. I may still be young, but this film reminded me of all the friends I’ve made and lost in my own lifetime and the good memories I’d love to relive. I left the movie in good spirits and as I drove home, I started to reflect and ended up listening to Jeff Buckley and tearing up. Comedy can make you cry, and I think it’s because there’s a certain honesty about it that’s more human than some of the intense dramatic films and television shows out there.
In a winding down summer movie season, The World’s End provides a fresh comedy that doesn’t rely on the tropes of a usual drinking movie and raunchiness just for laughs. It’s an intelligent character piece that just happens to have some really awesome fight sequences and laugh out loud moments. If you’re a fan of the previous two Wright/Pegg/Frost collabs, this is a must-see.
The World's End is rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. Read more about the film here.